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Wiping the ink off the EC's face

While the Election Commission has received abundant praise and deservedly so for holding elections in a fairly disciplined manner, a few things that caused disquiet amongst voters cannot be ignored.

On the one hand, the EC has done a good job of controlling excessive expenditure, the flow of alcohol and incidences of paid news. It has also largely been applauded for the way it has enforced adherence to the moral code of conduct.

On the other, however, this paper’s front page story yesterday on the commission’s ‘indelible’ ink actually being rather delible, and the sustained reports of voters, especially in Mumbai and Pune, finding their names missing from voter lists, have given the world’s largest democratic exercise a bad name.

The ink in question has been in use since the third general elections and it does seem unlikely that people working for this paper would have been the first since 1962 to try and wipe it off with
a matchstick.

The issue attains disturbing proportions when one considers that one of the country’s tallest leaders publicly exhorted voters to wipe the ink off their fingers and cast their franchise a second time. The deletion of voters’ names from electoral rolls also came as a rude shock for voters in Pune and Mumbai and this debacle is likely to haunt the EC until the state assembly elections in October.

Besides this, the issue of voters’ slips also led to confusion. Even after election authorities gave their word, the slips did not reach many voters, leading to chaos at many booths in Mumbai on polling day. An army of voters entered with just their voting slips and cast their ballots, while those who didn’t have one had to carry ID proofs prescribed by the EC.

An exercise to ensure a foolproof voting process cannot remain inadequate as it leads to confusion among voters. It is not a good sign for the world’s largest democracy or for the institution of the Election Commission of India, which has ushered in a number of revolutionary reforms.

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